The number of lawsuits challenging non-immigration visa policies in the US has not descended even after the regime change as President Joe Biden is continuing with some anti-immigration policies of the Donald Trump presidency, immigration lawyers said.
In what comes as a surprise to many, claims challenging processing delays and travel bans. Also, proposed changes in the H-1B work visa program have marked the early months of the Biden government.
“We didn’t figure we would be as busy as we’ve been with the Biden government. However, that hasn’t proven to be the case,” said Greg Siskind, founding partner at immigration law firm Siskind, Susser PC. He said the new regime has chosen to carry some Trump policies even if those “hurt immigrants”.
About six immigration lawsuits have been filed – mostly class actions that include a large number of litigants in each – in the last three months.
“It seems like ultimately, the government comes around, however that is probably in response to the suits themselves,” Siskind said.
A week ago, Saarika Bandaru, a resident of India filed a case following an inordinate delay. In giving her a non-immigrant visa which had been approved in March 2020. After a second visa appointment in February 2021, the US Consulate in Hyderabad won’t give the visa or provide any data on when, if ever, the visa might be given, says the filing.
A month ago, a group of Indians joined a lawsuit challenging the travel ban into the US. Which legal counselors said is illegally being used as an excuse to not grant visas. The ban on Indians only applies if one has been in India in the last 14 days and going to another country for 14 days would solve the problem, they said.
Immigration lawsuits will continue into Joe Biden term
Also, there has been litigation challenging proposal to change the H-1B lottery system from random to a wage-based – a proposal introduced by Trump. While Biden has postponed its implementation, he has not rejected it as was expected.
“We filed a suit to challenge the rule under the Trump government. However, this litigation proceeds after the Biden government, and even though Attorney General (Merrick) Garland can voluntarily withdraw the proposed rule at any moment”. Said Jeff Joseph, senior partner, and director of corporate immigration and employer compliance at immigration law firm Joseph & Hall. “The rule has been delayed until November, it has not been removed,” he said.
Going on, immigration attorneys are gearing up for still more litigations as delays in visa processing continue. Additionally, there are no indications of Trump’s immigration policies being abandoned, they said.
Joseph said the claims will proceed as the Democrats will attempt to get more chances to the H-1B program. “The Democrats, while certainly more welcoming to immigrants than the last administration. Have a long historical alliance with labor unions and are very protective of the US workforce,” he said. “The Democrats will advance a plan and guidelines that are more aligned with the interests of workers rather than employers.”
Coronavirus drove terminations have brought about a tremendous backlog. With around 500,000 cases waiting at the National Visa Center to be sent to consulates for interviews. Most of these impact non-immigrant visa processing.
Also, Siskind is working on a lawsuit challenging USCIS for accepting various applications for the new H-1B lottery from a single person. This gaming of the H-1B lottery harms individuals and employers who followed the rules and need a fair chance at getting an H-1B number, he said.